Rule use in perceptual classification was investigated in adults and in 4- to 12-year-old children. Two studies of performance
on triad classification tasks with large samples (N=226 and N= 328) are presented to (a) contrast theoretical predictions
from the holistic-to-analytic-shift theory (Smith & Kemler, 1977) and the differential-sensitivity account (Cook &
Odom, 1992), and (b) to contrast findings with Thompson's (1994) rule analysis technique with latent class analysis (LCA).
The findings, which demonstrate the value of LCA in this context, support the differential-sensitivity account, but not the
holistic-to-analytic-shift theory. All resulting latent class models included two one-dimensional classification rules, but
no holistic and no identity rules. In addition, a small, but significant number of children and adults failed to show systematic
rule use, even with increased salience of dimensional differences. Furthermore, developmental effects were found primarily
with respect to the type of dimensions, to which the children attended. As children develop from 4 to 12 years, the dominant
dimension is first brightness, then size, and finally, towards the age of 12, orientation.